“Marketing Automation”: What is it exactly? over the years it has become some-what of an industry buzz-word. Like synergy, SEO, or lead generation, the term “Marketing Automation” finds itself within mixed company of those who use it and know what it is and those who have heard it on the latest episode of Conan and chalk it up to some new fad in business.
Perhaps the most difficult aspect of marketing automation is defining what it actually is. Wikipedia defines marketing automation as“referring to software platforms and technologies designed for marketing departments and organizations to more effectively market on multiple channels online (such as email, social media, websites, etc.) and automate repetitive tasks.” This is a very long way of saying that marketing automation takes repetitive & time consuming tasks and simplifies them by having programs do the work for you.
Why Marketing Automation is Important
As a business owner, there are a plethora of initiatives and responsibilities which require your attention. In every business and in every industry, there is one primary initiative which if not managed appropriately will decimate your business; that is the process of finding new customers, and more importantly: keeping the customers you have.
“65% of a company’s business comes from existing customers, and it costs five times as much to attract a new customer than to keep an existing one satisfied” (camfoundation.com)
Employing the right marketing automation process, helps you to focus on your current customers, identify and evaluate which marketing campaigns are working, and accelerating buyers through your sales funnel process in a more effective, efficient, and less costly way.
Commonly used in business to business sales, lead generation is finding its value in the ever changing world of business. With the advent of the internet, and the rise in small to medium sized businesses, marketing automation offers a reasonable solution to those who may not have otherwise been able to compete in a global marketplace.
How to Use Marketing Automation
The primary function of marketing automation is to move leads from the top tier of your marketing funnel to the lower tiers of the funnel whereby your leads become customers. To do this there must be a system which moves the prospect from the initial phases of buying (an A on the A-Z buying spectrum) to an active customer (a Z on the A-Z buying spectrum).
“Over the past decade, the customer’s ability to self-educate has increased astronomically. Buyers can use vendor, analyst, and social media websites to understand their options and refine their own preferences.” (eloqua.com)
Technology: In just a short decade, the landscape of marketing has drastically changed. With increasing access to information proactive buyers are empowered to uncover content and products, to seek social validation, search and read online reviews, and dive down into expert evaluations before ever even speaking to a business owner.
The result of this has lead to a far more educated and skeptical consumer base requiring businesses to get in front of prospects early, to establish themselves as an industry leader, providing quality and personalized content which makes you stand above the rest. There are many options out there for automating a marketing program.
An effective marketing automation platform employs technology which lets you track how a prospective buyer interacts with your brand. Through the measurement of things such as: email clicks, website visits, click through and abandonment rate, content downloads, time on site, and much more; you are able to gain valuable insight into your prospect’s readiness to do business with you. Automating this process through the use of tools like Aweber, mailchimp, salesgenie, and many others can allow you to deliver the right message at the right time.
Building Relationships With Your Audience
In the past, marketers and marketing software focused on developing and sending high-volume outbound emails. Today, if we hope to guide buyers to consider, prefer, and select our products and services, we need marketing automation software that provides the precise information buyers need as they move through the buying process.
A system of nurturing and follow-up is more about the “why”, and not as much about the “how”. Consumers want to be engaged with their brands, they want to feel as if they are a part of the conversation, and they want a product that acts as an extension of who they are. Keeping your company at the front of their mind through an automated and personalized process, is about “why” you are connecting first. “How” you are connecting is a result of an intricately planned process.
“It is important for creating effective Relationships in Internet Marketing that a content strategy is devised which addresses the following concerns:’
- Using a combination of useful content sources and channels
- Understanding competitor channels and best practices
- Complying with the belief and value system of the audience
- Coordinating with other online platforms preferred by the audience”
Even with the ever-changing landscape of the business world, the intricacies of buyers patterns, and growing consumer need to feel engaged with their brands; marketing remains as much of an art as it ever was. Compelling offers, captivating visuals, clear positioning, and convincing copy are still challenging to create. Even though today’s businesses require elements of science in automating how marketing messages will be delivered, understanding market segments, buyer patterns and habits, and what causes a buyer to take action still differentiates the best marketers from the merely good ones.
As we shift from a reactionary outbound system of marketing, to a more tailored and focused approach to marketing based on interest and permission by prospective consumers there is a growing need for new technological capabilities. Using marketing automation platforms helps to guide conversations, improve timing, and offer the personalization consumers need to make decisions and to become raving fans. It is the job of a business owner to do all of these things, and to employ the resources needed to make it all happen.